Mr Michael Withington

Michael Withington

Lawyer biography

Michael is experienced in a wide range of commercial litigation, including shareholder disputes involving both listed companies and high-profile private companies (many of which involve a cross-border element). He has also acted in litigation involving financial services institutions (including mis-selling claims and negligence claims), claims involving directors, and disputes over asset acquisitions.
A large part of Michael's practice at Howse Williams Bowers involves contentious employment matters (acting for both employers and employees), including claims over termination and remuneration, enforcement of post-termination restrictions, discrimination claims and partnership disputes. He advises employers and statutory bodies on internal investigations and disciplinary proceedings, and has represented a number of individuals in SFC investigations. He also has significant experience in conducting and defending judicial review proceedings.
Michael also has extensive insurance experience, particularly in relation to the defence of professional negligence claims and advising on coverage issues. He has been a panel solicitor for the Hong Kong Solicitors Professional Indemnity Scheme since 1998, and has represented both local and international law firms in connection with a broad range of claims.


Employment & Immigration

Court limits scope of non-solicitation restrictions
Hong Kong | 21 November 2018

A Hong Kong court recently considered the enforcement of a non-solicitation clause against an employee who was employed as a delivery worker. The court's observations in this case as regards the enforceability of non-solicitation clauses reiterate the well-established position that employers have no right to be protected against competition per se.


HKIA launches public consultation to update its guidelines
Hong Kong | 08 January 2019

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA) will take over the regulation of insurance intermediaries from the three self-regulatory organisations in mid-2019. Given that there are several sets of competence standards across these organisations, it is necessary to consolidate and update them in line with the statutory requirements to improve protection for policyholders. As such, the HKIA recently held a public consultation on two guidelines under the Insurance Ordinance (Cap 41).

Hong Kong reinsurers to receive preferential treatment from Chinese regulators
Hong Kong | 11 September 2018

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA) has achieved a consensus with the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission that the latter will provide preferential treatment to Hong Kong reinsurers by reducing the reinsurance credit risk requirement under China's Risk-Oriented Solvency System for mainland insurers that use Hong Kong reinsurers authorised by the HKIA. This new arrangement should improve Hong Kong's credentials as an Asian reinsurance hub.

Hong Kong Insurance Authority launches consultation on draft enterprise risk management guideline
Hong Kong | 10 July 2018

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority recently released a draft guideline on enterprise risk management as part of Hong Kong's move towards a risk-based capital regime. The draft guideline considers the recent consultation and review of the relevant insurance core principles by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and aims to nurture a strong risk culture which reflects the values, attitudes and norms of business behaviour.

Lawmakers building HK$1 million safety net for policyholders
Hong Kong | 22 May 2018

Lawmakers recently met to discuss a new bill to establish a policyholders' protection scheme to protect policyholders' interests in case an insurer becomes insolvent. This safety net will cover individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises and building owners' corporations. All authorised insurers in Hong Kong will have to participate and pay an initial levy to build up the two compensation funds – namely, the life fund (for long-term policies) and the non-life fund (for general policies).

Complaint channels for insurance policyholders
Hong Kong | 03 April 2018

If a policyholder is dissatisfied with the conduct of an insurer, agent or broker, there are various channels for making a complaint. One such channel is the Insurance Claims Complaints Bureau, which was recently revamped to provide Hong Kong's insurance industry with improved methods of settling personal insurance claims and disputes by providing policyholders with an alternative dispute resolution process.

'Insurtech' initiatives in Hong Kong
Hong Kong | 30 January 2018

The Insurance Authority has launched two new initiatives to promote the use of 'insurtech' in Hong Kong and encourage insurers and technology companies to team up to develop innovative insurance technology in light of recent market trends. The initiatives aim to promote the development of new technologies in Hong Kong's insurance sector and maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness in the Asian market.

New insurance levy to be introduced
Hong Kong | 14 November 2017

The Insurance Authority will begin to collect a levy from policyholders through premium payments to insurers from January 1 2018. Holders of life insurance policies and general insurance policies (eg, travel, motor, property and household) will be required to pay the levy; however, reinsurers, policies underwritten by captive insurers and marine, aviation and goods-in-transit businesses are exempt.

Court quashes payment order made against AIA and order costs against tribunal
Hong Kong | 05 September 2017

The Insurance Agents Registration Board recently initiated disciplinary proceedings against a former AIA International Limited agent for breaches of the Code of Practice issued by the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers. The resulting disciplinary action included a payment order of HK$806,200 against AIA; however, this decision was reversed by the Court of First Instance following a judicial review.

Hong Kong and China insurance regulatory bodies team up
Hong Kong | 04 July 2017

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission recently signed an agreement to conduct an equivalence assessment on the insurance solvency regulatory regimes of Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as to implement procedures and transitional arrangements to increase cooperation between the two insurance regulatory bodies.

Boosting Hong Kong's insurance sector
Hong Kong | 02 May 2017

The Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council recently released a report entitled Turning Crisis into Opportunities: Hong Kong as an Insurance Hub with Development Focuses on Reinsurance, Marine and Captive. Pointing out that Hong Kong is facing stiff competition from regional competitors, the report identifies opportunities to strengthen Hong Kong's position in the reinsurance and insurance industry.

AIA tightens health insurance reimbursement policy
Hong Kong | 07 March 2017

Hong Kong's largest health insurer, AIA, recently issued letters to doctors in private practice advising them that it is clarifying the policy wording for 'medically necessary' procedures. In an attempt to avoid reimbursing what it regards as 'excessive health procedures' at private hospitals, AIA is proposing that only seven significant comorbidity and five acute conditions be recommended for inpatient care.

The Apology Bill and its potential effects on insurance contracts
Hong Kong | 17 January 2017

The proposed new Apology Bill encourages apologies in disputes by removing legal disincentives to apologising (making an apology inadmissible in lawsuits and ensuring that insurance coverage is not affected), with the aim of promoting the settlement and resolution of disputes and reducing litigation. There are clear advantages for insurers in the enactment of this legislation, as they will not need to be concerned with expressions of regret prejudicing the defence of a claim.

Guidance Note on Corporate Governance of Authorised Insurers revised
Hong Kong | 15 November 2016

Although the new Independent Insurance Authority is expected to become operational at the end of 2016, changes to insurance industry regulation are already underway. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance recently issued the revised Guidance Note on the Corporate Governance of Authorised Insurers, which aims to enhance the integrity of Hong Kong's insurance industry by providing guidance to insurers for the evaluation and establishment of their internal practices and procedures.